In Defense of East Africans

One of my greatest desires in running is to witness an American winning a major marathon. With an elite field in Boston once again this spring and all of American pride and determination that will be found, notable contenders such as Shalane Flanagan and Meb Keflezighi might really have a chance to get the win they are training so hard for. However, should an Ethiopian, Kenyan, Eritrean or Ugandan take the win as we’ve come to expect in past couple decades I will not begrudge them that victory and here’s why.

From Abebe Bikila to Haile Gebrselassie and all of the other East African marathon greats too, there is just something so special about the passion and love they have for running. Enjoying the comforts of first world living in the US it is almost impossible to understand what it must be like growing up in a hot, poor, often small, village in an East African country, yet great runner after great runner emerges. There are many theories floating around and no small amount of science to back up a number of them, as to why they seem to have an unnatural ability to run so well over distance. I’m not going to delve into that too much here, but feel free to do some research of your own on the countless articles and books written on the effects of high altitude, painful African tribal rituals, constant travel by foot, or even the chance at wealth and fame, just some of the many factors often cited. I would like to take a brief look at some of these great runners whom I feel compelled to support, regardless of nationality.

Abebe Bikila, the first African to win a marathon, took the Olympic gold in 1960. He was not supposed to be on the team but due to an injury suffered playing football, is compatriot had to withdraw and he boarded a plane to Rome just in time. He ran the race, or at least most of it, in bare feet and by pulling ahead at 500 meters to go he sprinted to the finish. Instantly a hero back home and internationally, he went on to win the next Olympic marathon as well. Certainly he is one definite factor in the rise to marathon prominence in Ethiopia and other African nations as well. Beyond his heroics in the race, the words he had to speak after cement him as a hero to me. After the race, when Bikila was asked why he had run barefoot, he replied, “I wanted the whole world to know that my country, Ethiopia, has always won with determination and heroism.” That’s pride I can get behind. After enduring a horrible car crash in which he became quadriplegic and after surgery, paraplegic, he had this to say “Men of success meet with tragedy. It was the will of God that I won the Olympics, and it was the will of God that I met with my accident. I accepted those victories as I accept this tragedy. I have to accept both circumstances as facts of life and live happily.” Abebe was the start and following in the footsteps of a man like him is certainly inspirational. Much like the running boom seen in the United States after Frank Shorter’s 1972 Olympic Marathon Gold, Africa saw a boom in running and more specifically, in winning. It wasn’t immediately seen in the US, due to cost and accessibility, I would surmise. By the end of the 80’s though, both the New York and Boston marathons had been won by a Kenyan named, Ibrahim Hussein. For Boston this would be the first in a trend, 14 of the next 16 marathons were won by African runners. It wasn’t until 1994 that an African woman would claim a major marathon victory, but when Tegla Loroupe broke the tape in The New York Marathon a whole new wave of African contenders were arguably inspired and subsequently unleashed on the U.S. marathon circuit. Outside of the U.S. this amazing trend was blossoming as well, in Europe and Japan. What started with Bikila continues to wow the world today. Though I’ve long heard grumbles and gripes since before I was even a runner, I don’t share the view that many Americans have adopted. I don’t see their frustration as bigoted or racist in most cases, just a hurt national pride. We love sports and athletics here in the United States and usually, we dominate  the rest of the world in them. But when it comes to distance running, we’ve lost the edge we once had, us younger folks, we’ve only read about it. I felt compelled to spell out my own support of the East African distance runners, not because they need my voice, but because I need to voice the respect I hold for them. If you want to complain and grumble about the lack of American’s winning titles, look no further than the football playing children nationwide who are encouraged to use running abilities to out-sprint one another for brief spells on a field, or simply look at your couch, it’s probably well used. We have only ourselves to blame, the African runners are there, urging us on, setting records and winning races. If for nothing else then, I support them for at least keeping the sport alive while we’ve let it slowly die. Though the U.S. is in the midst of another big running boom right now some say, it’s surely of a different type. While the 70’s ushered in competition for the masses and new world bests in the States, the 2000-2010’s have brought a different kind of running, a lot of new runners and a lot less desire for speed in most of them. It’s time we took an American challenge back to Boston, New York, Chicago, Houston and LA but with many thanks to the Kenyans, Ugandans, Ethiopians, Eritreans and company for keeping the racing competitive while we’ve focused on sports with balls and eating cheeseburgers.

– Button

Lazy Blog Posts and Hard Workouts

Do you ever want to just be lazy, even when you’re in the groove and working hard? I feel like I have to fight the urge to do nothing so hard sometimes, even though I know I’ll feel like crap if I sit around all day. I have been so very not lazy over the past month with training, that taking a sick day on Thursday to cut off some cold symptoms, still resulted in a 10 mile run. So, while my running has been far from lazy, my blog posting certainly has been, usually seems to be the case for me. The more I’m running and the better it’s going or the closer to race day I am, the less I post about it. I suppose if I have to be lazy somewhere, I’d rather it be here than in my training. That being said, the aforementioned lack of laziness in my training has resulted in my first couple high 70 mile weeks. My average mileage over the last 5 weeks is 72+. This has resulted in my biggest month yet, 320ish miles in January. My previous high mileage was close to 250, last July. All of those experts out there espousing year over year building and long term plans for distance running progression, they really know their stuff. It’s all about progression with distance running, repetition and slow improvement, also, patient determination. Big breakthrough’s have happened for me, usually once or twice a year a couple workouts or a few solid weeks of training will standout. Last year in February I worked up to a couple 60 mile weeks for the first time and started seeing some big improvements in speed and endurance (c’mon baby, let’s do this again!) I also could not sustain the mileage I was hitting and ended up getting injured by not responding to some nagging pains properly. I feel much stronger than I did last year right now though and have a solid base of eleven weeks of about 60/week average overall, progressing from low 50’s to high 70’s. With Monday being 11 weeks out from the marathon I will have a solid 22 weeks of training in (barring any unforeseen issues) something I’ve never come close to. My average is only about 16 weeks of good training and another 2-3 of sort of okay training. I’m looking to cut 8+ minutes off my PR so it’s going to take some big work to get there, not to mention all of the shorter distance PR’s I will be looking to accomplish post marathon this year. I know I will never be a really competitive runner at any distance, but I’d like to develop into a good club runner and maybe get close to the winning time in some smaller marathons at some point. I hope to get there by following the words of Meb Keflezighi: “And I believe God has given me this talent — and there have been people who are more talented than me — but no one should out-work me. No one should out-smart me. If they have the talent I can’t do anything about it, but other small things I think I can do and help me be a better runner and a better human being and a better person and hopefully inspire others to get the best out of themselves.”
True words to live by! God has not given me the same talents in running that Meb has, but I mean to use the talents I have in the same manor, striving to work hard and smart, to inspire others if I can.

I thought of that quote from Meb multiple times in a 16 mile race last Sunday. The race was billed as “moderately challenging” but the words were meant as a pun; the course has some serious hills and is more than a moderate challenge for sure! I started out with the lead group of runners and by mile 3 I was somewhere just off the top ten. I was trying to run by effort level and stay somewhere just below marathon goal pace ‘hard but not max’ On the first of the many large hills I shortened my stride and continued at my goal effort level, in so doing I passed a group of 6-8 guys on the 3/10’s of a mile uphill section. I guess my hill sprints really do serve a purpose! Anyhow, I first thought of the quote from Meb, which he gave in a Competitor Magazine article published just before the won the USA Half-Marathon champs a few weeks ago, when I was coasting down that first big uphill. A couple of the guys I had passed went zooming around me on the way down, but I continued at my own pace and resisted the temptation to give chase. After the next couple of uphills I had passed them again and that time for good. I had then one guy left in my sight who was running for a club that always seems to beat me in these local races. I did actually go a little over my planned effort level to eventually pass him (also on a hill) and thought of the Meb quote again as I was trying to consciously plan my move and outwork him. Over miles 8-13 I had a gap of at least a few tenths between me and the 2nd and 3rd place guys, who were trailing a leader by another few tenths. Due to not giving it my all I still had some left in the tank and pushed hard over the last 3 though, closing in a 5:30 mile (That’s close to 5k pace for me!) Long story short; I’m glad the Meb quote came to mind over that run and that I thought of it again now so I could share the story of a race that started as a training run but ended with a 4th place finish!
Top Five Times Were:

Overall No. Name S Age 5M  Pace  FINISH  Pace
1 639 Samuel Fazioli M 21 29:32  5:55  1:37:05  6:05
2 238 Christopher Kovalchick M 29 30:49  6:10  1:37:56  6:08
3 569 Chris Grange M 30 30:57  6:12  1:38:47  6:11
4 3 Daniel Button M 27 31:13  6:15  1:39:27  6:13

With the next post I will go back to my training log format most likely, or I might finally write down these article style posts I’ve had in mind for ages. More than likely I will continue to be blog lazy and go with the former. Stay tuned and thanks for reading, please share a comment with previous race experience or favorite quote of your own!

As I will with most posts in my Boston training, I’m going to finish with a plea for donations to my charity efforts with World Vision. Please take a look on this link and consider donating to a worthy cause. I’ll do all the running and sweating, but I need your help with the fundraising!

http://support.worldvision.org/site/TR/TeamWorldVision/TeamWorldVision?px=1423793&pg=personal&fr_id=2220

Many thanks,
– Button

Training Update and 2014 Goal Times!

Well, another week has passed, only 13 to go! Less than two weeks from February already, this is going by insanely quick. First a quick training update and then some running goals for 2014! My last posted ended with my prep for an 18 mile fartlek, so that’s where I shall begin.

1/12 – Long Fartlek 18 miles with 13 x 30 sec. @10k-3k (Total run avg. 6:24/mile) Felt great!

1/13 – Easy Pace 9 miles + 10×10 hill sprints. Ran at a comfortable 7:20/mile pace and felt decent

1/14 – Specific Endurance Intervals 2m easy + 4x6min. @10k w/3min. active recoveries + 2m easy the 10k portions were around 5:45/mile avg. Not quite down to the 10k 2014 goal pace of sub 5:29/mile, but these Tues. workouts have all been sub par so far and it was 100% humidity. I’m thinking it might just be due to my training cycle, with Sunday workouts leaving me a little weaker.

1/15 – Easy 15.4 miles Broke it up between two runs. 5.4 at lunch and another 10 at run group. (avg. somewhere around 7:00/mile)

1/16 – Easy 8.6 miles (6:50/mile avg.) Watched Galen Rupp set a new American Indoors 5k Record of 13:01… insane. Also saw Sam Chalenga set a new PR of 13:04 and Cam Levins brought the Canadian indoor record down to 13:19, too.

1/17 – Took a day off! First zero day in three weeks! I did do some dynamic stretching and a lot of foam rolling etc.

1/18 – Easy 8 miles on some very snowy roads. (7:10/mile avg.)

1/19 – Time Trial 10k 3 miles easy + 10k (5:49/mile avg.) + 3 miles easy Found a nice mostly flat 10k out and back course and ran quite hard, but left a little in the tank. Was about 36:14 total time, and I was pushing sub 5:30 pace at the end. I know I could be under 36 in an actual race. But it’s a new PR none the less, always feels good to PR in a training time trial! Speaking of times I would like to achieve, here is my list of 2014 goals:

Distance

800m

1Mi

5Km

10Km

1/2 Marathon

Marathon

Time

Sub

2:10

Sub

4:50

Sub

16:30

Sub

34:10

Sub

1:16:30

Sub

2:40:00

Pace

4:19

4:49

5:18

5:29

5:49

6:06

This past week started with some high mileage and fatigue build up, but the rest day and shorter weekend mileage seems to have been the perfect medicine and I’m confident going into the rest of this week that I will be ready to dominate my biggest mileage week yet. A mere 77 is nothing compared to what is still to come though. I filled out my training plan and added up the weekly mileage… looks like I’m supposed to peak at 90+ that’s a big jump from my previous peak being just under 70. The best part with a plan though, it is just that. It’s not set in stone, I can change it as I go. The key is to keep getting faster and staying injury free! 

In other news, I saw more than half my family last night for a get-together with my parents before they move down to Kansas for awhile. Certainly bittersweet, as I have always been in close proximity and relationship with them, but a joyous time with some of my siblings, too. We have a crazy family and I’m crazy blessed to be part of it and to have been raised by the parents I was. Not afraid to share their faults, and always ready to help me overcome my own. That’s it for now.

As I will with most posts in my Boston training, I’m going to finish with a plea for donations to my charity efforts with World Vision. Please take a look on this link and consider donating to a worthy cause. I’ll do all the running and sweating, but I need your help with the fundraising!

http://support.worldvision.org/site/TR/TeamWorldVision/TeamWorldVision?px=1423793&pg=personal&fr_id=2220

Training Update – Four Weeks Done, Fourteen To Go!

Stayed up late reading Game of Thrones last night and slept in this morning before hitting up Trader Joe’s for a restock on runner fuel and a couple of hours plotting the training plans from today to April 21st. I did manage an easy 5 miler this afternoon in between watching Chuck on Netflix and, well that was about it actually. Very lazy Saturday, indeed. The last couple of days my legs have not felt very energetic and the increased miles felt like they were wearing me down. Running around in the pouring rain today was just about perfect though, felt comfortable averaging 6:43/mile on the 5 while splashing around in the amazing 50 degree weather.

My total over the last four weeks was 258 miles and 286 over the last month. I’ve been geeking out with numbers lately so that works out to just over 9.2 miles a day on average, though my last two weeks have actually been at 10.2 a day average. None of this means anything right now, but I should be able to use it in creating future training plans, if this is a success or not. Anyhow, on to the workouts since my last update:

1/4 – Easy 6 miles that I couldn’t get motivated for and finished with another fun mile running through the snowy woods

1/5 – Progression 17 miles on nice paved trail, only sped up moderately, felt fatigued by the end with no fueling. (6:38/mile avg.)

1/6 – Easy + Hills, 8 miles easy and 10 x 10 second hill sprints (7:00/mile avg.)

1/7 – Fartlek 9 miles easy with 4 x 5 min. @ 10k pace (Avg. pace of 6:16/mile with “on” sections at 5:50/mile or less)

1/8 – Progression 12+ miles, with last 6 @ moderate. (6:33 avg. last 6 – 6:40 total avg)

1/9 – Easy 8 miles (6:46/mile avg)

1/10 – Threshold 9 miles. 2 miles easy- 2 x 15 min. @ half pace- 2 miles easy (6:00/mile avg. for threshold) I was trying to run at a 5:45/mile pace for the threshold, but had to push hard to hit 6:10ish on the first 15 mins. Probably a number of factors in play but it still left me feeling pretty blue about current fitness level.

1/11 – Easy 5 miles. My fears have abated for now after easily coasting along in the 6:40’s at what felt like easy pace today.

Excited and only slightly nervous to see how tomorrow’s long run goes. 18 miles at an easy pace with 12 x 30 seconds @ 5k-3k pace should tell me how I’m doing with long run fitness without killing me.

 

As I will with most posts in my Boston training, I’m going to finish with a plea for donations to my charity efforts with World Vision, please take a look on this link and consider donating to a most worthy cause. I’ll do all the running and sweating, but I need help with the fundraising!

http://support.worldvision.org/site/TR/TeamWorldVision/TeamWorldVision?px=1423793&pg=personal&fr_id=2220

Marathon Training Update

I am more than two weeks into training and it’s high time for an update on the progress! After a week and a half of feeling very groggy, I’ve started to gradually adapt to the higher mileage this week. Still no injuries to report, just tired muscles and struggling to stay hydrated in cold and dry winter weather. Brad Hudson’s adaptive running seems to be working great for this self coached guy! This last week has been one challenge after another outside and is scheduled to be my biggest week yet, fitting way to start the year. The way I look at it is, go big or go home and I’m sure not ready to go home yet. (Not sure what that means, actually) Anyhow, here is the training log from the past couple weeks.

12/22 – Progression 12 miles with last 20 minutes @ moderate (6:36 avg. with last three in 6:17-6:10-5:56)

12/23 – Easy/Hills 8.3 miles (6:50 avg) with 6 x 8 second hill-sprints

12/24 Fartlek 9 miles easy with 8 x 1 minute @ 10k-5k pace (6:26 avg)

12/25 Progression 11 miles with last 5 miles @ moderate (6:40 avg) freezing cold in Central Park

12/26 Easy 9 miles (7:09) mileage was really tiring out the legs, felt good though

12/27 Time Trial 2 mi easy + 4 mi @ max effort + 2 mi easy (4 @ max felt sluggish after being in a car for most of the previous day; 6:00-5:59-5:54-5:32) (6:22 total avg)

12/28 Easy 5 miles (6:35)

12/29 Progression 14 miles with last 30 min. hard. It was bitter cold and raining so I started to speed up before planned, but it worked out to some nice neg. splits over the last 8 miles. (6:36-6:26-6:09-6:04-5:58-5:58-5:49-5:44) (6:20 total avg)

12/30 Easy/Hills 8.5 miles (6:42 avg) with 10 x 8 second hill-sprints

12/31 Fartlek 9 miles easy with 6 x 2 min. @ 10k pace (6:31 avg)

1/1 Progression 12 miles last 6 @ moderate (6 @ 7:35 + 6 @ 6:07)

1/2 Easy 10 miles (7:42) Sluggish legs and blizzard like conditions, very low traction even with micro spikes on

1/3 Progression 9.3 miles. 3 mi easy + 3 mi hard + 3.3 mi easy (hard miles 6:30-6:27-6:18) snowy and poor traction

Tomorrow I have planned an easy 6 mile recovery run and Sunday has a 16 mile progression run on tap. I’m hoping the running trail is clear by then, or it could become a brutal snowy sidewalk run.

As I will with most posts in my Boston training, I’m going to finish with a plea for donations to my charity efforts with World Vision, please take a look on this link and consider donating to a most worthy cause. I’ll do all the running and sweating, but I need help with the fundraising!
http://support.worldvision.org/site/TR/TeamWorldVision/TeamWorldVision?px=1423793&pg=personal&fr_id=2220

 

And What a Year It Was – 2013 by the miles and milestones.

It’s a prerequisite in the running blogosphere to write end of year reviews, so here goes! I normally hate on these things and poke fun at them, but I have to be the cliché one this year. 2013 really was something extraordinary, full of ups and downs and totally amazing. I’ve gone chronologically with the recap after scrapping my original plan of listing everything by importance and significance.

January
I got settled into life in Massachusetts by running a 5 Mile race on the first! Found a fantastic Wednesday night run group (Way up there on the ranking by importance list, btw) Made some excellent new friends. Saw my first professional runners up close in the indoor circuit. I took some time off to prepare for the next marathon cycle. Signed up for my first ultra (promptly bailed on it when the time came though and ran my fastest road marathon yet)

February
I bought my first race flats. Started training for spring marathon. I met and fell for a wonderful girl. I fell in love with running all over again too as I ran 212 miles in the month. Ran a 20 mile race in ice and sleet on an island and made many trips to NH. Got lost on a long run… ended up running 27 miles that day, oops. Saw the Lumineers for the second time and they were even better!!

March
Continued a high weekly mileage volume and started the month off with a super-fast 3 mile race, also truly learned the joy of running with someone else, many times over. I did ignore some nagging injuries that should have been dealt with (It wasn’t all fun this year 😦 ) I did finish in 2nd place in a ¼ marathon on a challenging course. I spent a lot of time in prayer and reading the Bible, as well.

April
How can I even recap April with any proper justice, it certainly deserves a post of its own, I will simply make an attempt. The month started with the welcome warmth of spring and boundless joy on every run. I started making a better work of my recovery sessions and running my ‘easy runs’ at an easier pace and managed my longest training run yet, a 50k training run. April 15th 2013 will not easily be forgotten, nor should it. As evidenced by being the most searched for thing on Google this past year, the whole country took it as a shock, tragedy and horror. I watched the marathon from the halfway point and still vividly remember the events of that day and nearly every detail, I’ll leave that for some other time though. Between sustaining my first 60+ mile weeks I also saw The Milk Carton Kids in April, second time and just as good!

May
Marathon madness for me! I ran Sugarloaf marathon and came away with a 6th overall and a big shiny new personal best as well as a nifty ceramic plate for taking first in age group! The last few weeks of training were typically underwhelming, but the race went well and I was very happy with the result. Vacationed in Maine and NH and had a blast. The month did end with a mutual breakup… and thus my summer began, full of questions and learning.

June
This will be the shortest recap as June was indeed the most boring month of the year for me. I started the month with a much needed multi-day hike with some good friends. I selected a fall marathon, chose a new training plan and started training. I did do a lot of reading, running/coaching focused and otherwise. The One Run for Boston came through on a muggy June 30th and was an excellent experience, full of positivity and resilience!

July
Started the month with injuries and the dreaded visit to a Dr. I only needed a week off  though and was able to rebound fairly quick. Saw the Bosstones! Ran a fast half-marathon on a very hot day and came in 2nd overall! In keeping with the year theme, the half-marathon was a PR, too. I really started using the adaptive running style advocated by Brad Hudson of the Performance Training Group and enjoyed a relaxed but focused training period.

August
Learned to embrace running in heat, no really, I didn’t hate every single run this summer. I had a good guy’s weekend in Portsmouth with K-West and Shirley Temple, always a highlight. Hit my “older 20’s” officially and instantly felt older. I finally bought a Garmin, life changing! Ran another half-marathon as a spec test for my fall race and came away with a big PR on a course with 2k’ of elevation gain! I finished the month with an epic quest for Heady Topper all over VT. Mmm… Heady Topper…

September
INJURIES! My first real injury and subsequent recovery time happened in September. Remember that lack of rest and proper recovery I mentioned back in March? No? Well, at any rate, my hip had been a problem off and on all year and it finally flared up so bad that I needed a couple weeks off completely and a few good ART sessions. Got in about a week of easy running again by the end of the month to prep for a now goal-less fall marathon. I learned the joys of proper recovery and back up races, too.

October
I ran a 2:54:30 marathon in some rain after a week and a half of training coming off injury. Got beat by my friend and still managed 7th place though. All sorts of lessons were learned on that one, most importantly, how to run a marathon just for fun and finishing. I made good memories all month with good running friends and non-running friends. I worked back up to full training, safely. In October I started seriously considering a move out to Oregon and spent lots of time and prayer on the idea, I also decided to book a trip out there. My good friend, Sam came out to Oregon with me and we spent a week at his brother’s house in The Yaak, Montana, too. The trip cemented my interest in moving west and though it hasn’t come to fruition yet, I’m anxiously searching for a job in Bend, OR. I learned the joy of running at higher elevation and with bear spray in my hand when I was out west and saw a million amazing and beautiful things.

November
The month started with my back-up fall marathon. The course was absolutely brutal and the weather tried to best the course’s hills for brutality. I ran out of gas worse than I ever have at 20 miles and had to grit my way to the end, my pace was all over the place due to the elevation changes. I was able to stay within 2 minutes of my PR and did not lose heart, just realized that my goals were not accurate for the course and based on my fitness level. I took a short break after the race and did some hiking and relaxing. I ran my first indoor track workouts and first track workouts with a group, something I will always look forward to now! Bounced back fast from the marathon and was able to get back to 50 a week for the second half of the month. Finished the month by Turkey Trotting across some icy fields.

December
Continued to hit 50 a week and finished a strong month of Thursday night track sessions with Greater Lowell Road Runners. I was able to get a huge PR in the 5k after all the track work and strong base building! Kept my eye loosely fixed on my mileage goal for the year that had seemed so out of reach post-injury, but now appeared reachable. On December 16th I started my training for Boston Marathon and consequently kicked off my fundraising for World Vision. I finished the year with a couple 60 mile weeks and no injuries to report. Crushed the mileage goal for the year by 47 miles, 2347! I’ve now gained 800 miles a year since I started running in late 2010!

 

I’m sure I’ve missed thousands of awesome, terrible and surprising; boring, fun and memorable happenings. This year was just too much to process at times, but so worth it for the lessons learned. As I wind this post down with Norah Jones quietly cooing on the speakers, I start thinking again of all the amazing things that 2014 will bring. I could not be more excited for this year to begin and though I’ve said that every year for a while, it’s still the truth. The west coast beckons, Boston Marathon awaits and many, many miles of running must be covered. BRING IT ON!

Big props in 2013 go out to my friends and family, both new and old; you helped get me through some very tough times and were a big part of all the good times. The shoes of the year were New Balance for racing/speed-work and Mizuno on the easy runs. Garmin came into my life and helped me with mileage and pacing. Chocolate milk and cottage cheese were the go to post run recovery foods until lactose intolerance barged into my body. Chicken was the go to food, usually in burrito or taco casings and I can’t count the number of new IPA’s that were tried. Well, that about wraps up the shout-outs and honorable mentions, so I bid you goodbye and goodnight, 2013.

Back At It

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Forgot to bring my ski goggles tonight…

Training has now begun in earnest and as you can see, the weather so far has made it an honest effort. I have about 63 miles scheduled to run this week and I’m still 18 weeks out, this will be undoubtedly be an honest effort until the very end. This training plan only adds on another 25 miles from where I am now at it’s peak, but my plan one year ago peaked at where I’m starting now. It’s new territory from here on and I’m excited to see if my body is ready for it! No injuries to report and only some minor discomfort after a month of buildup. My hamstrings were tight after the hardest track workout I might have ever done last Thursday, but they finally started to relax on tonight’s run. I finally finished my Christmas shopping today and am looking forward to seeing a whole bunch of loved ones in the next couple weeks. It will be a very weird Christmas not spent in NH for the first time in my life, if I’m remembering correctly. It will be both fun and challenging trying to fit in my training around a busy traveling schedule, but I’m sure it will work. I’ll just keep thinking about how boring it will be in January with nothing but running in the agenda if I start to stress over time constraints. Family still comes before running, even if only just! I do have 10 scheduled for Christmas day, but that should be easy, last year I was at the track running repeats and my dad even came along to hit the watch for me!

I’ll make this a brief post as I still have to get some sleep before a busy day of work/holiday party and run group/holiday party. I wish I had some more festive running clothes, but at least the work party can be supplemented with a green blazer and a tacky tie. 

Next post topic!
I have a couple posts that I’ve long been meaning to finish researching and actually publish. One of them is titled: “In Defense of East Africans.” As I now run to raise money for World Vision I believe it is all the more pertinent for me to publish why I support many of the East African runners and why I believe their dominance is not bad for the sport. It ties in perfectly with why I am so humbled and honored to partner with an organization that brings fresh water and aid to countries like Kenya and South Sudan!

Please consider a donation to my World Vision goal of $1310, or $50 a mile!
http://support.worldvision.org/site/TR/TeamWorldVision/TeamWorldVision?px=1423793&pg=personal&fr_id=2220

Living The Fun Life

It’s been my opinion for a long time that living should take place outside the living room. People should not be dwelling in offices all day every day, or spending most of their lives inside. It’s not just the long slow death from the sitting, or the staring at computers and phones, but the constant lack of motion and adventure, it’s all so wrong. A part of me does enjoy wearing suits and contributing to meetings there is something enjoyable found in the practice of things learned in business school. But if the primary objective and life success is found in the office, the best parts of life are being missed! Twenty-eight years and thousands of great experiences have convinced me, the fun life starts when the office door closes…

My favorite activities since childhood have always involved being outside, from skiing to building forts, inside was a place to stay when you were sick. I grew up in one of those neighborhoods where the kids would all get together and play after school, there were usually 3 or 4 of us, myself being the ringleader most times. I was home-schooled so whenever I finished my school work I got to go out and enjoy the outdoors, a pretty good impetus to finish your work. In my off time from conscripting the neighborhood as my personal workforce in the fort construction business I read about everything I could get my hands on. A well read kid usually has a better base to imagine and pretend from (a mom with a large collection of dress up clothing and a sewing business certainly helps) at least that’s my theory. I started cross country skiing when I was eight years old, my older brothers were big freestyle skiers and snowboarders, but my roots were found in cross country skiing. It was probably the winter sport my dad was most willing to take part in at the time and I was too young to keep up with the older guys. After a few winters of trying to hit jumps on skis with the heels unattached, my parents found me some old downhill skis and it’s been my favorite sport ever since. My dad was a big proponent of team sports and all but one of my siblings have played at least one at some level or another. I first learned to love soccer when my dad coached a rec team and put me on it, another sport I love even more as an adult. I never did do any running in a competitive sense or without a bow or a sword (mom, if you’re reading this, the swords were always sheathed when running… unless it was a running battle of course) but I did do a lot of running up and down the stairs and around the yard and surrounding woods as a kid.

My point in this little historical monologue is simple, outside your office door is a wealth of fun. If you don’t believe me, hit me up for some fun suggestions. I choose to get most of my adventures in distance running these days, but the call of the mountains is stronger than almost any I’ve heard and I’m up for some skiing/hiking/trails or biking at the drop of a hat. (and pending vacation time available at the dreaded office)

The North Face has been using the Never Stop Exploring tagline for awhile and the corresponding ads have triggered these thoughts. I could not agree more with the sentiment of endless exploration and adventure. The spirit of adventure should be encouraged.

Clip of the post:
North Face – The Explorer http://youtu.be/gHw55K4ByOA

Quote of the Post:
“A man who has been through bitter experiences and traveled far enjoys even his sufferings after a time”
― HomerThe Odyssey

Fresh Slate on Training

I’d love to use this post to explain how my next training plan will utilize core/upper body, speedwork and tempo runs to perfectly balance my distance training, when paired with adequate rest days and good nutrition. I have a significant problem to resolve first however…

I still need to determine what that training plan is!!     HELP!?

Historically I have followed two different plans in my marathon training, plans sourced on coolrunning.com or more recently a guide based off the recommendations in the back of Brad Hudson’s book, Run Faster. I have never been invested enough in the past to seek out a coach or some kind of interactive training, but I want to build of the past efforts and improve every year! 2013 was the first year that I did not meet the marathon goals I had set for myself and I want to make sure that in Boston next April I will be putting the best possible me on the starting line. I do not blame my training plans for the goals unmet this past year. I have spent some serious time analyzing this past year and recognized what I can change to give myself a better chance at hitting those goals next year. I’m sure I will end up writing a year end recap in the next couple of weeks here, where I will elaborate further on this past year and what happened, both negative and positive.

As for this coming race cycle, I would like to have a solid base of 18 weeks dedicated training, which means I need to start on Monday, December 16th. Before I start training again I will have already put in 2 30 mile recovery weeks and 4 solid weeks of 50 miles avg. including track workouts. This will certainly be the most prepared I’ve ever been physically before starting and so far I’m feeling pretty healthy, too. I’ve been trying not to overdo it, while still maintaining a decent mileage and having fun!

Anyhow, if you are reading this and can put me in the direction of some great training or coaching, I will entertain any new options at this point. I do have the Brad Hudson plan to fall back on as I did not quite give it a fair shake last time through, due to a late start and injuries. I still came within a few minutes of my goal time, despite the setbacks, but as a life long second guesser I feel that I must at least seek out some other options. I would love to find a coach or join one of the great local clubs (I’ve been doing track workouts with Greater Lowell Road Runners, shout-out to a very fun group!) but with my dream of moving out to Oregon still very much alive, I feel that it would not behoove me at this juncture to tie myself down here in MA.

I’ve made no attempt in the past couple weeks to write up anything and feel that laziness and TV are to blame. I have a ton of thoughts swirling around, but have been sucked in to Netflix. I promise to myself that I will get active again with my writing and start working on the book ideas that have been nagging me for awhile. (ha ha, yeah right) I’ll start with regular blog entries, maybe.

Workout of the post – 12 mile tempo run from a couple days ago. It felt great to have the mid 6:20’s rolling off while still being able to chat. http://connect.garmin.com/activity/411999529#.Up66f_XacIw.wordpress

Building Blocks to Boston

My body is still on “vacation” and my mileage and speedwork have been severely curtailed, what a joy! For the first time since 2010 I’ve been able to appreciate a rest period. Granted, I have still been maintaining a decent weekly mileage, it has still been quite relaxing. Not scheduling my weekend around a long run makes time for fun trips and events. For instance, I spent this weekend with my sister in NY and had a blast. My off-season will be coming to an end in two weeks, but until then I will continue to enjoy the spontaneity and low pressure runs.

Once I begin again, the training will be 100% in preperation for Boston next April. The goal for Boston is two-pronged, to run the best race my training can possibly allow me to and to raise at least the minimum amount I have pledged to for World Vision. The first part is old hat, train harder, faster and smarter than ever before. The second goal is far more important to me, however.

I have often subconsciously designated charity runners as different than those who run for speed or place. Not out of judgement or condescension, mind you, but just from general experience. I personally had the desire, in the case of Boston, to qualify and run it on my own terms. Rather than finding a charity to supply a bib number, I wanted to run it as a personal goal only. After qualifying and being registered though, my desire was altered. I realized that running for a charity, with no strings attached would enable me to run the race I wanted, while still doing much more for others. I’m well aware that my previous outlook was rather small minded and these thoughts are probably no big revelation to most, but this is the process I went through. A timely birthday gift book from my dad introduced me to Lopez Lomong’s charity, which is partnered with World Vision and I was compelled to run for them. Below is a brief description of the charity and a link to my support page. Please take a moment to check it out and consider giving. Thanks in advance to all those dear friends and family who have assured me that on April 21st, 2014 they will be cheering us all on in Boston!

World Vision is a fantastic organization that works with local communities in Africa to bring clean water, medical supplies, education and independence to the people. Lopez Lomong is a survivor of the Sudanese civil war and American Olympian. His biography is one of the most amazing books I’ve read. I will happily provide a copy if you would like to read it.

My support page is liked below. Feel free to visit worldvision.org and search for Daniel Button if the link gives you trouble.
http://team.worldvision.org/site/TR/TeamWorldVision/TeamWorldVision?px=1423793&pg=personal&fr_id=2220

Thanks all!!

PS. I will be tagging all Boston buildup and charity update posts with “Boston 2014”